(Adds comments from CEO, financial targets, share price)
By Yoruk Bahceli
AMSTERDAM, Aug 20 (Reuters) - GrandVision, the world’s largest retail optician, beat market expectations for second quarter profit and said it was targeting annual sales growth of more than five percent, partly through acquisitions.
GrandVision operates brands such as Vision Express in Britain and Apollo-Optik in Germany. Listed in Amsterdam earlier this year, the company on Thursday reported an 18 percent rise in core earnings in the three months to the end of June.
Its shares rose 3.7 percent to 22.80 euros, extending gains from the 20 euro flotation price in February.
The company has a market valuation of around 5.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) and has attracted investors who regard the optical sector as offering growth as populations age.
Emerging market businesses benefited from economic growth that beat European levels in the latest reporting period, Chief Executive Theo Kiesselbach said on a conference call.
Kiesselbach said he expects Grandvision to continue to grow in emerging markets despite expectations of a slowdown. Acquisitions in both mature and emerging markets are part of a long term growth strategy, he added.
“The opportunity of growth through acquisitions is still high,” Kiesselbach said, without providing details.
In 2014, Grandvision made acquisitions in China, Colombia, Peru, Turkey, Italy and Britain and Germany worth 233 million euros ($260 million).
Grandvision said its quarterly earnings before interest taxation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 18 percent from a year earlier to 136 million euros. Sales rose 17 percent to 827 million euros.
Analysts polled for Reuters had expected average sales of 806 million euros, an increase of 14 percent. EBITDA was expected to rise 15.7 percent to an adjusted 133 million.
Grandvision did not give a specific profit forecast for 2015, but said it is targeting EBITDA growth “in high single digits.”
Grandvision said its business in the last quarter was particularly strong in Latin America and Asia, where EBITDA jumped from 1 million in the second quarter of 2014 to 5 million this year.
It owns more than 5,600 stores in 43 countries in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. ($1 = 0.8986 euros) (Editing by Keith Weir)